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>> host: our guest was charla rath, and this is "the communicators" . the "the communicators" is on location at the technology tradeshow ces. more programming next week. >> now, ricardo cortez talks about prohibiting the use of coffee and coca-cola -- cola in the world. this is a little over an hour as they discuss the invitation of its use worldwide. >> could please turn on that.
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thank you. we are going to be talking about coffee, and cola and the ingredients in cola. his latest book examines a series of highly addictive substances that have caused many deaths through much profit and how they make their way into the united states and what the u.s. government's role has been in ensuring that they come into this country. this evening, we are pleased to be joined by two drug policy experts as well. without further ado, i would like to hand it over to the panel. [applause] >> thank you so much for coming out here. i am so excited. it is great to be here in new york. i'm going to start off by talking about my book, and then
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we will go into what focuses this week and what is going on with the u.n. that basically prohibits this around the world. back in 2004 and 2005, i did a book about marijuana. it wasn't about how to smoke weed, but an educational book about how they might talk to their kids about a difficult subject. so that is why the format is kind of like an illustrated picture book. as i started looking into there are families that are involved in the policy to eradicate coca,
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as well as family and social economic issues. the history of coca, especially with the relationships of cocaine and the coca-cola company, and the drug problem that we have today. it got really complicated. it is now a book for itself. i also started back before coca, is a history of coffee. i started with coffee because i wanted to do a comparison of something that is always fascinating fascinated me greatly that the drug plans change perceptions of these drugs over time.
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when apples first came to this country, they were used for fermentation purposes. people would get drunk and hence there were people that wanted to ban the apple. i looked further and i found that there were other plans similarly that today you would say it was incredible. tomatoes and potatoes, and other things. obviously, now coffee. there was this great origin of coffee, eventually going throughout the world and questioning the health of it. the religious legality of it, and there were times when coffee was banned, coffee houses were shut down. at times for health reasons and also for political reasons. there was a lot of political discourse. so i saw that this was another
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plant within alkaloid as its principal ingredient of the coffee. something that went through the cycles of fermentation and then prohibition and obviously acceptance. it is pretty much a legal in most parts of the united states today. so coca is a similar plan. it's very similar. it is sometimes picked on the same mountainside by the same people. and it has been alkaloid as its principal ingredient. they are very powerful stimulants. caffeine is actually toxic in its purest form. i would just like to make a comparison about those two plans. that is why went so far back into this history of coffee.
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to dig into history. that is when the coca-cola company question came about. i grew up with those rumors that there was cocaine in coca-cola. was there ever cocaine and it? yes, there was. it was coca-cola who started to take the cocaine out of it in about 1902 or 1903. there was a german cocaine maker, with lewis schaefer, who is basically the first person who take out the cocaine at a facility in new jersey. we can talk about it today, the pharmaceutical company is still there today, you can go on the dea website and see how they have to register to import coca
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leave and register for the production of cocaine as a controlled substance. so yes, i went into that history is well and basically found out that coca-cola had been getting access to the coca leave for the past century. where it all comes together today, what we will also get into his bed coca became prohibited around the world. for one of three treaties that now dictates international drug policy. the first one is called the 1961 single convention on narcotic drugs. that was the treaty but today says libya is supposed to eradicate all their wild coca bushes. something that has been going on for south america for thousands of years.
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i went to the national archives. what you see a lot in this book, there are actually illustrations in the book that i took of the archives of the document. instead of writing all the words out, and found boxes of documents. i took four drafts of them. then i illustrated them. what you will see in the book is rather than retelling this, i re-created these documents and letters. correspondence that happened it happened over decades. literally decades and decades. there was one individual against the architecture of the marijuana issue. he was the same part of the american government in its negotiations at the u.n. to
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codify the laws against coca. while that was happening, he was in constant communication with the coca-cola company, primarily to rob hayes, which i really got to feel a relationship between the two of them overtime. they had a really interesting parlay between each other. so that is the beginning of an overview of the book. i think we will have questions for each other. that is the beginning. >> good evening, i run the drug policy project of the institute for drug studies. i was once asked to talk to a group of high school students. and they look at your resume and
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background, then they come up with a topic and you have to speak about the topic. this being a high school audience, they wanted to hear about sex, drugs, and international relations. and i thought oh, how might want to tie all these things together. it didn't dawn on me until the last minute. then i realized that the way to tell that story was through the story of columbus, who i consider to be the granddaddy of international drug traffickers. i use that word because it's relevant. how you see the world depends on where you sit or stand. your perspective. so i want to reframe this discussion points in a way that we may not think of it very often. you know the story of columbus. he had spice routes in asia. he was also interested in spreading religion and stuff, primarily it was about spices. why were spice is so valuable that it?
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well, it wasn't just that food was terrible in europe at the time. and it was. but each new exotic spice was thought to have certain properties. it might make you feel a bit more brandy, passionate but this? each of these new spices were kind of the viagra of the day. all right? so that is one of the reasons why this became so valuable. so after the conquest and colonization, the fed made a fortune exporting drugs back to europe. i drugs i mean sugar and many people consider a drug, it's where we get rum from. definitely drug, coffee, tobacco, and of course aphrodisiacs spices. so these things became the developmental engine for hemispheric development.
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think about where we are today, washington dc, virginia, maryland, these were all drugs back in that time. a lot of these drugs were introduced back to europe and people look at them with revulsion. tobacco, why would you put fire and smoke into your mouth. coffee was a death penalty offense in many states for many reason because people would consume alcohol and they would go to the government and the only thing to drink that was safe was with alcohol. but with coffee it stimulated people. so coffee houses became revolutionary hotbed. so was a death penalty offense in many states and now we have turkish coffee, english teatime, the tobacco fortune that drove a lot of the european development.
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long story short, half the world got colonized in some ways due to these old white men in your bed and get up. there you have sex drugs, and international relations in a nutshell. [laughter] i tell a story because what we consider to be drugs is important. so mostly white males of european ancestry who drafted this, they got to exempt all of their favorite drugs. once they were partial to. once they got accustomed to alcohol, coffee, all of these things that they love to do. but coca is something that indigenous people used. it was those racist attitudes that made him say them say this is forbidden. it causes degeneration, but in fact, in its natural form, it actually is a very beneficial
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plant and relatively harmless. it is very mild, in my opinion. i compare it to two cups of coffee, basically. the thing that targets across america is that coca is not cocaine. indigenous people should not be punished because some people, you know, refine it into cocaine and abuse it. there is great dignity and value to this. it's an ancient tradition that doesn't harm people. and united states foreign policy tries to dictate its terms these terms to places like bolivia, less than 1% ends up in the united states. yet, the heavy-handed nature of u.s. policy, you would think that this was some kind of flood coming from bolivia, the way we dictate terms for that country. if you imagine the united
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nations and the u.n. convention, if they were to treat coffee the way they treat coca, what would happen? and they told him that you have to stop this, this custom of chewing coca, imagine if they did that to the united states. then you have to give up that habit. well, a friend of mine did this. he is a performance art major. he went to amherst college and in 2001, he conspired school in administration to secretly ban it for one day without notice during finals week as a project. all of these students get up and there's no coffee sold on campus. and they have friends in trench coats as drug dealers.
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here's a shot of espresso, and here are some chocolate covered coffee beans, "the new york times", cbs news, all the stuff was covering it. it was the kind of outrage he would expect if someone told you could no consume your favorite beverage or stimulant. he began to understand some of the dignities and the outrage from people, other people decide they can't you coca anymore in the indigenous cultures. i would highly to save this treaty, 52 years old now, the u.s. and another number of governments say that we should not read these treaties carved in stone. so much has changed since 1951. any of these governments defending views on gender equality, sexual orientation, indigenous rights, race
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relations, based on attitudes, of course not, our views have changed. they have become better. the same people who want to protect their turf are saying that we must never revisit these things again. it should be set in stone for all time, and that time has come as we change this thing. talk more about these conventions, i'm going to turn this over to the next panelist. >> thank you. okay, i would like to offer a few more reflections on the coca leave and what is going on with regards to efforts to reform the international drug reform convention and i conclude with some thoughts about the drug reform. what i really like about the book that ricardo cortes wrote is how he reveals the hypocrisy of the so-called war on drugs. as it was pointed out, it is how coffee is treated differently
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than coca. i would go a little bit further than sanho tree and say that coca is a mild stimulant, but it doesn't have the edge of coffee. you can drink two cups of coca, and you can still go to sleep. but if you drank coffee, you're up half the night. it doesn't give you that feeling. it's a mild, nice stimulant, and it has a variety of nutritional values. so even though it has been used by indigenous people for nutritional reasons reasons now, there is an effort to create a variety of legal products taking advantage of this. not long ago i was there and i had the opportunity to visit a processing plant that the
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government has built in this region of bolivia and had the opportunity to sample some of the products. they have a marvelous record, which i really love, their art energy drinks, it has a great flavor, but it's not like drinking red bull. it's a very nice kind of stimulant that would be much better for you. all kinds of payments, a variety of breads and rolls made from flour. there is what they call cheese puffs that the government is distributing two kids in a free breakfast program. the folks went on about how great the czar. i thought they were awful myself. but i guess the kids really like them. i also confess that i really hate coca toothpaste. but my point is that there are a
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variety of products that have very good uses and should be available not only in these countries, but also on international markets. there are a variety of uses beyond what coca-cola uses for flavoring. another hypocrisy that is pointed to in the book is related to the conventions. i was really struck reading your book. i had not realized this cozy relationship between the u.s. and the president of coca-cola. a very cozy relationship. in the end, the 1961 u.n. single convention on narcotic drugs and the subsequent 1988 convention, and made it to grow coca a criminal gang. indigenous people across the andes were told that the
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traditional practice of drinking coca tea would no longer be tolerated by the international community. it's important to point out that the u.s. was the architect of these treaties, today they have key allies in their effort to maintain the treaties, such as russia and japan. it really is a u.s. instrument. so long with cannabis and opium, and became the main target of the 1961 convention. this historical error, it was basically justified by the 1950 report of the commission of inquiry on the coca leave, which as sanho tree pointed out, it's a total racist document. absolutely no scientific evidence and you can find on the web now and you will be outraged if he read it. yet it is still the basis for the international drug control conventions and treatment of that. subsequent to that, the who
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carried out a study of this and they concluded that the use of the week appears to have no negative health effects and has positive, therapeutic, and sacred functions for indigenous populations. there are a variety of other studies that points to the nutritional value. in response to the study, the u.s. government led the charge against an and it died and was never published, although you can find it on the internet. it also called for the elimination of coca chewing within 25 years. that period ran out in 1989. the international community adopted the rights of indigenous
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people, which calls for the cultural traditions and practices of indigenous populations. for many countries, including the united states, they have basically accepted the idea of the indigenous use of these leaves. for years you could help deal with altitude sickness, they only took away after some pointed out that it was relatively available. u.s. government and other governments have refused to allow any changes to the international conventions and any changes that would correct this historical wrong. turning to efforts to change this, the election of the president of bolivia marks a real turning point in relations with the international
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community, and in terms with the government policy towards the coca leave. the administration adopted this, this cocaine no approach, they eliminated the eradication strategy that had led to so many human rights violations, violence, social conflict, and replace that with the program of voluntary social control, which is actually having better results than previous policies, certainly more so than neighboring policies. but with regards to the international convention, the government began a campaign to try to correct this historical error. the first thing they did, which everyone agreed was sort of a modest effort, was to try to amend the convention by removing the two subparagraphs the basically say that it needs to
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be abolished within the 25 year period that has now passed some years ago. they simply wanted to delete those two paragraphs. without any objection, libya's request would've been automatically accepted. but not surprisingly, the u.s. led the charge to oppose that amendment, rallying what they called friends of convention group of government, which objected the effort of bolivia. in response to that, the bolivia government withdrew from the convention and went back to the legal uses of the coca leave. the way that worked was that one third of number countries would formally object to prevent the reassurance to the convention a year later. tomorrow is the deadline for countries to oppose them coming
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back into the international convention. as of midafternoon today, i know of 13 countries that have objected. the u.s. was the first to object. i'm sure there will be a few more in the next 24 hours. but at this point, it is obviously highly improbable that you would get the 62 that you would need to prevent its return. on the one hand, this is a victory for bolivia. they will be able to return to the international drug control community with their reservation on the coca leave, but it won't affect the convention. so internationally, this historical wrong has yet to be corrected. the u.s. government, as i said was the first to object, they basically said they were objecting because allowing this change would lead to a greater supply of available coca and would lead to more cocaine and
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drug trafficking. that argument is obscured at so many levels, but i'm not going to go into it. their fear is that this is going to be the beginning of more serious changes to the conventions and that other countries will follow suit. any change to this outdated document -- these outdated documents, will open a pandora's box of attempted reforms. i think that they have reason to be concerned. i will conclude with this. they are afraid that marijuana will be next. and why not? there have been regulated markets in a country, that is very likely to pass in the next six months, it will be the first country in the world to have legal markets if it does. we just legalize marijuana in colorado and washington. we were out of form yesterday about that. one of the panelists said that the u.s. should just withdraw from the convention and read
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here. obviously, that's not likely to happen. the u.s. is at odds with the conventions they created. there is more impetus for reform coming particularly from latin america, which has borne the cost of the war on drugs. they are wondering why they are implementing these policies and make things worse in our country, in order for u.s. consumers to have drugs available to them. that just doesn't make sense. so you have a sitting president is opposed to ex-president, those who are calling for a serious debate on drug policy reform, there have been a series of initiatives that we can go into detail on in the discussion that is coming from the region. most significantly, at the request of mexico and colombia and guatemala, the eco- stock
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has just approved a u.n. general special session taking place in 2016 and will provide the next really serious opportunity for a convention reform. ..
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they wanted to grow coke in the united states so they could have better access and i think the quote was they want to have greater agricultural knowledge of the plant to be able to tinker with levels of cocaine, tinker with different flavor. so they asked the federal government, right after the convention retired as commissioner. and we had a new commissioner, jordan know, and the coca-cola company asked him, we wanted to grow coca in the united states. can we work something out here? and so as long allies for the coca-cola company, they said, sure. what do you want? u.s. virgin islands? how about hawai'i? hawai'i sounds great. so they went the university of
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hawai'i and contacted the president of the university of hawai'i, said we want to start the pilot program to grow coca have leafs. we have worked out the legalities. it's matter of scientific research. the president of the university of hawai'i says that's great greatbut we can't keep it secret. we can't take the coca-cola name off the project. we're a public university. so, unless it was matter of national security or something. and so the federal bureau of narcotics was, yeah, it's a matter of national security. so they're like, okay, sure, it's a secret now. so this project on. it started in 1964 and went until 1984. they were growing coca at the university of hawai'i. the funny part of this and why i bring this up, what happened was that the coca actually didn't really grow very well, and in fact most of it died. and so 1984 they abandoned the
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project, and the u.s. department of agriculture took over the project because they wanted to find out why the coca was dying, and the figured it out there was a fungus take over the coca and killing it. and so the de -- dea took of the process because they wanted to use the fungus to eradicate coca, so i fine that one story a marvel. it encapsulates the whole relationship. we have this leaf that indigenous people are denied access to. we heard it has lots lots of nutritional, social, medicinal,'ll, cultural value to people, and denied access to this leaf but you have multinational correspond granted special privilege to access so they can use the same lee of make billions and billions of dollars and that's what they did. then they started the experiment so they can make more, and doesn't go so well, so the u.s.
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government takes it over and transforms that same project into a way to eradicate coca back in the amazon. and so the last i heard was, i think it was president clinton, who said -- the dea was asking to release this fungus in the rain forest. president clinton said no at the time. the last i heard in 2007 was that they're still looking into ways of using the fungus as eradication. it sounds iffy to me, releasing a fungus into a rain forest. i think that's kind of an interesting way of seeing how these privileges are afforded to some powerful factors and not to others. i wanted to throw that in. >> i would just add real quick, first, on the brazilian fungus thing, one of the great experts on this has didn't a lot of research, is sitting in the audience. but on the question of the u.s. embassy, the u.s. embassy's own
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web site used to recommend to travelers in la paz to have coca tea. how many have been to la paz? it's about 13,000 feet high, and the airport, which is a plateau above the city, is even higher. so the oxygen content is 40% also at sea level. so you suffer terrible alt altitude psychness, extreme fatigue, headaches and you don't want to do anything unless you consume coca products. whether it's chewing coca or coca candy or coca tea and that will allow you to acclimate to the altitude. so it is not what you feel when you chew the coke cashing it's what you don't feel you. don't feel high but you don't feel the altitude and you don't get those headaches. and so it's a very benign product. but one more point about the perceptions of coca.
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when the spaniards first started heading south and started getting into the andes they ran across people with the custom of chewing coca, and the church thought this must be the work of the devil. it's in their mouths and leafs and green and slimy. they banned it. on pain of death, until they ran into the biggest silver deposit in the history of the world. a mountain in bolivia. 14,000 feet high. and there was no way they were going to be able to force indigenous people to mine at that altitude without coca. and so suddenly the church did a 180, and instead of being this banned and sinful, it was allowed. so perceptions about things change. >> just to add one more comment in response to rickard coe's statement. we are poisoning the rain forest
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because we're engamed in aerial spraying in colombia, which has a whole range of negative impacts. and end with an anecdote, the former u.s. ambassador to peru in the late '80s toll me a story. they were trying to convince the -- both bolivia and purr rue effused aerial spraying programs in their country. they were trying to con peru so they brought a delegation to georgia to show them howl they would doing the spraying. and they started the little presentation, and then out walked this men in white astronaut suits, covered with head to toe, with the sample of the strain and the per ruthans said, no way, we're not going to do that. >> now we will -- by a show of hands i'll bridge the microphone
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around so everyone can hear the question and then we will start our discussion. so anyone have a question? >> did they ever have a widespread eradication of coca leafs because of the '61 ban? >> widespread but not effective. so, in colombia, where we do the aerial spraying, fumigation, we've destroyed millions of acres of coca and rain forest environment. this is one of the most bio diverse countries in the world. we're scorching the lungs of the earth but our politicians department talk about colombia is bigger than texas and california combine, the same of bolivia and peru. these are large land masses and trying eradicate coca is like
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having a war on dandy lions in the united states. that's not possible. but nonetheless they have done this in colombia, so after 12 years of spraying and merciless onslaught of eradication, 12 years ago 90% of the coke cape in the united states originated from colombia, after a dozen years of intense drug war in colombia, today, 95% of u.s. cocaine originates from chroma, and it's less than 1% originated from bolivia, and the bolivians have done better in terms of eradication of coca and interdiction of coke taken, but also they have captured and seized more of that that than previous governments that were subservient to u.s. interests. so the bolivians have done better than previous governments and yet our state department still denigrates their efforts, at least in public.
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but they did eradication in bolivian there's been manual forced eradication in peru as well, which is very, very violent, and difficult to stomach. i used to think that manual eradication might be kind of a kinder, gentler way to do it rather than using toxic herbicides until i ran into a eradication team and watched them do this. where the national police literally hold the family members as gunpoint at their little shack while a team of 40 men come in and within a half hour destroy your livelihood. and uproot all your coca trees -- bushes. what happens is that you force these people into food insecurity. these are peasant farmers, and bolivia was the poorest country in south america for a long time. tremendous poverty. when you destroy their only source of food security, they panicked. how am i going to feed my family next week, next month, next
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year? the one crop they know how to grow that is relatively easy to transport, unlike pine apple and other perishables, for which there are ready and willing buyers and that was coca. that guarantees they're going panic and replant coke car so this constant cycle of eradication, replanting, and conflict was broken that granted the right to grow a personal amount of coca, each family is allowed to grow a measure of 40 meters by 40 meters, an amount to give a modest income but you can save a little money, send your kids to school, but you can save a little money, and then you can start to diversify the economic. i have seen these villages the in the region that under u.s. policy, constant conflict, insecurity, more of the same, rains, lather, repeat. shoveling water. completely infee techtive. now i go back to these same
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towns and their flourishing because the farmers have food security and predictability, they're able continue vest a little bit of money, if they have experience cooking, build a restaurant or hotel or car repair shop or whatever, and that's how you get these economies to diversify and wean them off coca eventually. it's counterintuitive but it's like the recession in the united states. as long as people are insecure and don't know what tomorrow is going to bring, they're going to hunker down and not take risks and invest and die veers file the economy. >> i want to congratulate or two speakers. i'm one who considers myself somebody who follows this issue closely and i have some insights i learn and i congratulate you for your very provac staff and effective presentations. i want to make two points in addition to that. that is, bolivia -- you mentioned the embassy.
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i suppose that by the americans, if they consumed coca to adjust to the altitude. other nonindigenous sectors in bow livearch student groups or truck drivers or taxi drivers who are big consumers of coca for a functional reason. you chew coca and lots of it more than a couple cups of coffee to study for an exam. truck drivers to stay alert on the road. so you have a lot of nice contributions to society from using coca from the middle class sectors as well. it struck me, too that pursuing this marijuana could be productive for your interest in working on changing attitudes and perceptions, working toward policy changes, since marijuana, there's so much movement on that right now, americans are thinking about it. the more you can draw a parallel to the coca situation to the marijuana, going to be very productive and very enlightening to people. help them think about it in
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different ways. i wanted to ask, in 1961 conversion did it call for the 25-year elimination of consumption of marijuana and what were the -- how was that -- define those goals? similar to coca or something else? thank you. >> thanks, kevin. i'd like to point out the bolivian governments delighted the u.s. is now out of line with the conventions as they are as well. with regard to the '61 convention, it was just coca. doesn't call for -- it of course makes illegal the growing and consumption of -- actually the '88 convention makes growing illegal but the growing and production of those -- of marijuana, coca, and poppies. poppy -- there are a extra rid of exceptions for poppy, and
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just to be clear on this, the conventions make production and trafficking illegal. there is until in the congestions that makes consumption illegal. so, for example, the dutch coffee shops where you are able to consume marijuana, that technically does not fall outside of the convention. what falls outside of the conventions is the people who sell the marijuana to the dutch coffee shops, but it was this special commission on the inquiry of the coca leafs that led to such dramatic action with regard to coca. >> i think marijuana is a very good illustration of how things change generationally. i do believe marijuana is a gateway drug. a gateway to becoming president. every president we have had since 18993 has abused or drug laws in very serious ways. some of them possibly even in
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the mandatory minimum territory. also speaks to the entire generation of lawmakers. so gingrich, susan molinari, rick santorum, a lot of these -- al gore, they've all consumed marijuana. it's harder now to find people who came of national the '60s and '7s who didn't expert with marijuana. so you recall the democratic primary, the 2008 or 2004 primary where they had the democratic wannas be on the stage, anderson cooper asked if the, raid your hand if you never used marijuana and joe lieberman had to sheepishly raise his hand. so the question becomes, well, what is the basic legitimacy of the laws? the hypocrisy under which these are written and voted on. these same people who violated the laws are now voting or more laws and the question has to be ask, would a prison sentence have been good for your life and
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career? if not, why is it good for these other people, people of color and people in other part office the world. so it's coming full circle now. we can't avoid this question much longer. >> thank you. and i had a question about where the pharmaceutical industry is all of is and if they also like the coca-cola relationship with the drug -- i'm assuming that there's a lot of pharmaceutical products that rely on the coca and the codeine and all these other products. where does that -- where do they get their supply and are i also aligned and setting. thes up nicely while also supporting draconian policies. >> i can't speak on the pharmaceutical companies at large. you might be able to chime in on that. i do know that the process that coca-cola company outourselves in new jersey, basically to get
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the flavor as consistent -- the flavor distract they use for coca-cola, you take the coca leaf. they import tons of coca leaf. hundreds of tons of coca leaf over the last century, and there's a process to distract the cocaine. so what comes out of the process is a really fine agreed of cocaine, probably the best cocaine you can fine in the united states of america is manufactured by this company at the behest basically of coca-cola, and the last verify final quote i could get was that they were selling to the pharmaceutical industry. i'm not sure if that is still where it goes, but cocaine has been historically used as a local anesthetic, topical anesthetic and there's still some use for it in the medical industry, although cocaine has been -- now replaced by synthetics like lidocaine
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novocain but there's still some medical use for it,. [inaudible] >> where the coca comes from peru. [inaudible] >> i'm not sure if they ever got coca from bolivia. i heard that morales talked about this, that was happening. i i've never seep the evidence of it but i've heard it did come from bolivia as well. but perus primarily where the coca comes from. after that it goes to new jersey. aisle also curious and i haven't beenable to discern this and it's a followup investigation as to are there other countries where coca-cola has beenable to do this? in my research i was in the national archives i was following a thread where they were trying to do the same thing in the uk. and just a couple years ago, trace elements of cocaine were discovered in red bull cola in germany, which leads one to
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believe that yet this has been going on in other countries. not only coca-cola company in the u.s. that has access to the coca distracts but red bull got and it didn't do so much of a good job to take the cocaine out and it was found. >> in fact the international drug control conventions were set up to allow access to -- and monitor access to controlled medicines. so, i don't know a lot about this. there are people who follow it closely, but, yes, the international narcotics control board is specifically taked with over seeing the export and importation of what are otherwise illicit drugs in order to ensure that people have access to pain killers, basically, and it's primarily poppum related, opium related, and also there's a small market of controlled cocaine production, very heavily
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monitored by the incd, for that purpose. >> we have a question here. >> yes. i'd like to get -- circle around back to the -- not avoiding the question, and that question is, what do we do politically? and i have a small opportunity here for people who are interested. there is a special election coming up and there's one candidate running on the green party platform which says, stop the war on drugs, and normalize recreational drugs. now, i do have some petitions here you can sign later. >> so the question is, what do we do? from a policy perspective. if you don't -- how many people have communicated with their electioned officials so express their views on any subject? good. good. very civic-minded group.
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a lot of people think they don't. i was taught about the branches of government and your job is to show up and vote every four year and if you're upset about something, write a letter. but in fact they're there's a whole toolbox of things we can do as activists and individuals at the local level. a tremendous amount of leverage if you know how to build coalitions and communicate with legislators. history i made by those who show up. so if you sit on your couch, -- if you ask how to write an effect letter of coalition, you become the squeaky wheel because elected officials -- congress doesn't have the opportunity to take polls of their district everytime there's an initiative to be voted on. so they want to know what kind of letters are we getting? the editor of the local paper,
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op-eds and columns? how much faxes did we get, phone calls, people came to visit, and so they extrapolate by that, and their there are very few people on the other side these dies pushing for more drug war, but gives us an advantage in terms of representing ourselves, but that means you have to get involved, and if you don't, then it's a lost opportunity. >> i just want to add a little story in the research of the book, i reached out the coca-cola company self times under the auspices of writing an article about the flavor of coca-cola and i was talking to the director of worldwide communication, and i drink coca-cola my myself and then when the question of cocaine -- the rumors of cocaine come up, they just shut down. there's a stock line, yes, she told me it was stock line. this is what i say everytime
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someone asks about that, which is that the secret formula is one of our most valuable assets so we can't talk about it. so they hide behind a veil of secrecy by claiming it's part of their plan, and in fact it is their plan. you can go to the coca-cola museum in georgia and the secret formula is behind a big bank vault. it's part of the lure of coca-cola, it's a secret. but another time i reached out to cocoa los angeles they have a twitter account that is dr. john pemberton, the pharmacist who invented coca-cola, so they have a twitter page for him, and i sent him a drawing i had done when i -- when i was eight years old i was still into coca-cola, so i sent him pictures and he thought, that was great, and i
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sent sent him another picture of a'em pemberton wine coca-cola aboutle and before it was coca-cola there was alcohol in it. alcohol was prohibited before cocaine was in georgia at the time. so they had to take the alcohol out and that's when the added the caffeine to give you an extra kick, and that was the cola nut. the west african cola nut. so i sent him that picture and he is like, doc pemberton is great, don't show she polar bears they might go after you. basically i was trying to reel him in because i said, i do have another question. about the convention on narcotic drugs, and how do you feel about how the coca-cola has access to coca and yet the indipping news people are not allowed to have it, and et cetera, and this is install a twitter feed that at that point he didn't answer. and it's funny because his avatar on the twitter page was,
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s-h-h-h, like a secret. so i did that just so i could illustrate the entire dialogue after as way of interfacing with these companies, and i actually plan to continue to keep knocking on their door, asking about this. >> we have a question here. okay. i know the woman over there as well. >> hi. thank you so much. this has been really fascinating. i was wondering if you guys could tell us if you could set your ideal policy for the war on cocaine specifically and illegality of cocaine in the u.s. right now, what would that policy be and how does that fit in with the politics you talk about? thanks. >> i think you'd get a lot of different responses to that within the drug policy reform movement. and i want to underscore there is a drug policy reform movement
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here in this country and also in latin america, and particularly in latin america. that wasn't the case a few years ago. with regards to coca, i think it's a no-brainer. there's absolutely no reason coca should be hoe producted in international law. absolutely no reason that countries like bolivia, peru, and colombia, should not be allowed to market products internationally. there's no reason that coca-cola should not be allowed to use their coca flavoring and other countries should be allowed to do the same. the amount of cocaine alkaloids in the coca leaf is minuscule, very tine, and does not pose any danger when used in its natural form. think there's an issue with the people whoa grow coca are some of the poorest people in latin america. poor farmers withsmall plots of land and i think we have an obligation to help those countries, bring those people
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out of post and -- out of poverty and that means comprehensive rural economic development programs along the lines of what he was saying earlier. with regards to cocaine, i think you -- that's writ gets trickier. there's certainly people who would advocate for complete legalization of drugs across the board. my own personal opinion is that one drug use should not be illegal. we should not be putting cocaine users or users of any other drugs in jail. two, i think we need to experiment with marijuana legalization so we begin to have some body of scientificked to see what happens when you legalize, first, a drug that is much less dangerous, and what we can learn from that for looking at more dangerous drugs such as cocaine, and more addictive drugs such as cocaine. i also think we need to
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fundamentally revamp our drug laws. this is an issue i work a lot on in latin america. we have created a system where we nut jail primarily small-scale drug dealers, the guys and the girls and boys selling the drugs on the street corner, running drugs back and forth, or the people in the indian countries who are transporting drugs. these people are not making a lot of money, and the day you arrest them they're replaced by the drug tasking organization. yet they go to jail and in this country and particularly in latin america, which has accommodated across the board in many countries, harsh u.s. drug laws. they can end up with 20 years in jail. just one example. ecuador which is a minor player in international drug trafficking networks. the maximum centers for murder in that country is 16 years. the sentence for drug trafficking is a minimum of 12, maximum 25 years, and it doesn't
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distinguish between your level of involvement in the drug trade. so you go to jail in ecuador and you fine people who were selling drugs on the street corner, who had a judge that was in a particularly bad mood that day or was worried about getting his u.s. visa renewed and gave him a sentence of 20 years, and he ends up in jail for longer than somebody who has committed murder. it's just ridiculous. we need to do a major reform of our drugs through ensure that sentences are proportionate the crime committed. >> i would just add the way we talk about this is difficult in the united states. americans are very simple-minded people. we like simple answers unfortunately. black or white, yes or no who are the good guys? which team do i root for? menu a or menu b but there's a spectrum of possibilities. the poverty of our political discourse that prevents us from having a meaningful discussion about the issue.
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so for instance the eskimos have two dozen words to describe snowfall snow is important for them, life or death, and it's increase leg disappearing. that was the richness of their vocabulary, and yet we hold democracy to be so val knuble this country, so much so we export it and invade other donees. and we only have two words to describe democracy, democrat or republican and if you dare vote libertarian or whatever, you're viewed as a fringe freak or something like that. and it rob s us of choices, and so we are not allowed to consider the spectrum of every possibility. even in human politics. in the history of the human experience, we have had everything from totalitarianism to anarchism on the other end and every human society found different ways to organize its culture, economy, and politics, and we're not allowed to consider any of those human
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experience other than these two very close point0s this spectrum, democrat or republican, that are so close together kate moss couldn't squeeze between them. so legalization is a word that has become radio active. they've had many decades to spin the term. when i debated in the past they hold a false dichotomy, either you support the drug war or you're accused of wanting to sell heroin in candy machines to children. but there's a whole spectrum of regulatory possibilities for each drug. now we have a one size fits all, all illegal. but so we have to experiment and find out which policies work best for each particular drug. stimulantses are a bit more problematic, but to what extent
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our war on cocaine helped popularize and spread a poor persian's version of coke cape, crack, and to what extent did our wore an crack repopularize the poor person's crack, meth. we end up with an easier to produce, more difficult to top, more dangerous drug. right? and this is a lesson we sheave shoo have learned from alcohol prohibition. prohibition changed a donary of beer drinkers to -- liquor drinkers. in that time you don't want to make beer. so you want the most pure form of alcohol imaginable, whether it's grain alcohol or moonshine or hard liquor. but given choices, how manyoff you are drinking liquor? you're mostly drinking beer or wine. but the drug warriors say all
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these powerful drugs, peel will always gravitate toward that. any of you can go out and buy grain chomp happen of you have basically had alcohol since college? people don't like that stuff you prefer the mild are stuff. so the idea the drug wars try to drive into our mind is a false one. >> just to underscore one point there, which is flexibility. one of the big complaints before the international conventions is that the u.s., within the con -- if the convention and in its policies towards latin america has basically pushed a one size fits all policy design in the washington, and countries are saying our reality may not be your reality. uruguay is a tiny country of 3 million people that has a really very primarily urban population, with solid institutions, which has a very good capability to actually create legal regulated market
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tore cannabis. why should the international drug control conventions say that uruguay can't do that or colombia can't do that, et cetera. we need a regime that allows for flexibility, allows countries to experiment with or or even states in the country -- with what they think works best for them. >> we have one -- do you have a comment? >> i'll add, what we could do with the billions of dollars we invest in the prison infrastructure, that gets transferred into education, and then people make wiser decisions. how this access to meth, if people were able to get access to more benign drugs like marijuana they might make decisions it's a actually a healthier choice for you. we might not get red of drugs completely but there are safer alternatives. >> we have one last question
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here in the corner and then we have to wrap up and move on the book signing. so the last question for the evening? >> i want to thank you. very, very good presentation and i think you present a very good case where the coca leaf is innocuous or even a beneficial substance, however, it is true you get cocaine from the coca, and cocaine is quite a -- well, it's a substancey you can make a lot of money, and you've got the drug cartels involved in that. how can you control the growth of coca without getting the drug cartels involved and keeping it from being processed into the cocaine that can be obviously a lot worse in terms of effect on a society compared to the coca leaf. >> i think this is one of the most important concepts to get across about the war on drugs.
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why are these substances valued? why are they worth so much? cocaine, heroin, marijuana, all these drugs, they're very easy to produce, cheap to produce, and in a legal market they cost pennies per dose and yet they're astronomically more expensive? a lot of it has to do with our policy for prohibition, as long as they're high demand, there's a reservoir of farmers and smugglers, whether driven by poverty or greed or funding insurgency, they get in the drug economy because they think we they'll get away with and it most times they do. it's the risk. the more we escalate the war on drug the more value we build into the economy. so you can buy a kilo of coke cape in colombia for 1,000 or $1,500, bit the time it gets to at the streets thief united states, by the time the dealers cult it into little bags and dilute it with garbage, you can get 100,000 to 150,000 for that exact same kilogram if you sent
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that same kilo by fedex, it would cost you maybe 100 bucks but instead, we keep escalating the drug war, and the greater the risk to each trafficker, the longer the potential prison sentence they might have to serve, the higher likelihood to get caught, the greater the risk premium they can charge the next person down the smuggling line. so through the drug war we actually create a tremendous indirect price support, if you will, for drug traffickers, and so the people who -- the last people who want this drug war to enor the traffickers themselves, because without it they're basically transporting minimally commodities that don't cost money, and the drug warriors, they both need each other to keep their jobs and maintain their livelihoods. but if you legalize, if you ended the drug war, take away the risks risks and suddenly ite
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any other agricultural commodity like aspirin. >> i just like to add a slightly different perspective, looking at it from the perspective of if your goal is to disrupt the coke cake market, what's the best way? and going after the coca leaf has little impact on the market. there's studies in colombia, and basically he concludeds that complicated, economic cost benefit analysis and concludes that money invested in eradicating coca has almost no impact on the cocaine that is produced and ended up here. if you are going 'after the cocaine industry you're going to get a lot more bang for your buck going after the criminal organizations, going after the cocaine shipments, that sort of thing. in fact what we have seen in
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bolivia the government has put a greater priority on trying to interdict the cocaine itself as opposed to forced eradication campaigns. although hey do carry out voluntary coca eradication. so i think you have to look at where do we want to target our law. -- law enforcement efforts and should bit the small growers or the criminal organizations and the people in the organizations who are making the profit from the elicit business. and finally, i would just like to reiterate what sanho said, chit ultimately it's demand that drives the process. the u.s. continues to be the world's largest consumer of illicit drugs and if we really want to be serious about impacting the drug trade we have to put a lot more money into treatment and education programs here at home. distinguishing between recreational and problematic drug use, which is another thing that relates to the question
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about better drug policies, and ultimately look at this as a demand-driven problem. >> and with that i wanted to conclude our presentation this evening. i want to thank our panelistsiss and thank you all for coming out. [applause] >> so this is a poem i actually first heard in turkey. come, come, whoever you are, wanderer, worship ore, lover of leaving, it doesn't matter. our is not a caravan of despair. come, enif you have broken your
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vows a thousand times. come yet again, come, come. a couple reasons this is meaningful to me. actually in the book sacred ground, and i say that whenever i look at the statue of liberty, this great, beautiful woman of welcoming, the inscription is, bring now your tired you poor you huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. it's this notion of america in radical welcoming and openness, bring your traditions, plant those seeds in american soil, let them grow into institutions and into congregations that are welcoming and open to others. and so that spirit of welcoming and openness i think is at the heart of the american tradition, i think it's at the heart of islam as well, and nobody articulates that better or more beautifully than that poem. so, i need to confess i get emotional when i talk with people about the issues we're going to be addressing tonight. particularly the issue of
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interfaith religiouses and also the issue of the idea of america. right after 9/11, several of us, a lot of us gathered at a mosque here near usc and i heard a sentence that changed my life. and it was this. to the unless the 21st century is to be interreligious. and it is that dedication that draws me to eboo and the way he thinks. so i'm going to apologize only once for being emotional about these things. if i get choked up, you'll just say, -- chalk it up to that. but one of the great moments in his book is his telling about the genesis moment for this book. so, eboo. >> this is actually ramadan,
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2010. it's august, and i'm waking up at 4:00 a.m. and having my last meal before doing my prayers that begin the time of fasting. and it's at that point i like to, as muslims do, to read more from the koran or just additional time of centering and medication, muslims believe that god listens extra closely during the dawn hours. instead if people remember what was happening in august of 2010, it was the crazy discourse we were having around core doba house or the ground zero mosque, so i'm not reading the koran, i'm literally on right wing hate web site of right wing hate web site, trying to anticipate the storyline of the day because ever day there are new attacks on the founders of the mosque, and new word about this being a terrorist command center, et cetera, et cetera. people i have known for many years, people i admire who have spoken of building an institution support bid the
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muslim community that would be of service to the entire nation, and cordova house what the fruit of their vision. >> up next on book tv. cita stelser talks about the dinners by churchill which were used to talk to various leaders. it's 40 minutes. >> good evening. thank you all for coming. eye delighted to see you here to talk about my new book, dinner with churchill, policymake can at the dinner table. since my book is about the importance of dipper be assured i will not make you late for your own dippers. i will be brief. i just want to whet your appetite so you will buy my book.
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